My Rating: ★★★★½
Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.
Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.
Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?
I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t like the cover of Wildcard as much as I did Warcross, but the fact that I’m not much of a fan of the color green is probably playing a huge part in that. Despite my dislike of the cover, however, my enthusiasm for the continuation of Emika’s story was not dampened in the least bit. Once I got my hands on an ARC of Wildcard thanks to a very generous person I met online, I was imagining all the craziness that would likely ensue and was itching to jump back into the world ASAP. That cliffhanger in the previous book was torture and I’m so thankful I didn’t have to wait very long to jump into the sequel!
Things I Liked:
Wildcard wastes no time and continues soon after the first book ended, and we immediately see the results of that crazy plot twist. I hadn’t realized that the effects would be instantaneous and had so many conflicting emotions about it overall. I understood that, objectively, it was brilliant and done with the best intentions, but it also felt too risky, so wrong, and inhumane as it compromised a basic human right.
The writing and storytelling were perfect; I never felt too rushed with the pacing or sequence of events, or felt too bogged down with information and static scenes. Similarly in the first book, there were still some plot twists that were highly predictable but as soon as those were revealed, it wasn’t long until another one took it’s place that completely caught me off guard. One major plot twist in particular shocked me to the core, gave me chills, and broke my heart! Well done, Marie Lu.
I didn’t realize until I came across it again in this book, but I’m so glad that even after the events of the first one there are still Warcross games! The games were very different in this book, with much higher stakes and more serious motivations for participating in them, but they were still structured the same. As I said in my review for Warcross, the Warcross games were one of my favorite aspects of this world so I couldn’t imagine the sequel without them.
A new character is introduced and it took me by surprise how much I absolutely adore her! She makes her first appearance during one of the most exciting and dangerous scenes in the book and, like Emika, I couldn’t figure out if she was an ally or enemy until later on. Similar to Emika and Hideo, she also has a tragic past but with a more horrifying twist. As necessary for her occupation, she’s difficult to read but once she reveals more of herself I couldn’t help but empathize with her and everything she’s endured since childhood. Consider her added to my favorite kickass female character list!
Another thing I really love about this duology is the friendship between Emika and the Phoenix Riders! Within a few short months, Emika has developed such a close and loyal friendship with them all and it’s so heartwarming to see them continue to support each other through thick and thin, and despite all the danger. At a certain point in the story I couldn’t help but tear up due to their display of unwavering loyalty to Emika. Where can I find friends like them?!
Last, but certainly not least, I love all the Emika and Hideo scenes! I’m such a shipper of their relationship; I even loved all the heartbreaking scenes despite it hurting my heart. I enjoyed seeing more development between both of them, especially seeing them continue to work and put effort into their relationship. I really enjoyed how maturely they handled their issues and actively sought to address them.
Things I Disliked:
There were still a few plot twists that I predicted early on, but I didn’t mind as much this time around, hence only deducting half a star. This story still kept me guessing and second guessing myself because I would come up with two or three possible scenarios, and one would end up happening, but then another plot twists happens and one of my other guesses ended up happening too. It was crazy and had my head spinning a little, but I really enjoyed it.
A fast-paced, compelling roller coaster ride, Wildcard is the perfect conclusion to this epic sci-fi duology! Sci-fi books are either a hit or miss with me because I’m really picky, but I really, really enjoyed Warcross. I love the diverse cast of characters, variety of fascinating virtual worlds, and all the crazy plot twists. Consider me an official fan of Marie Lu’s writing because I could not put this down.
About the Author:
Marie Lu is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy and The Young Elites trilogy. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.
Have you read Wildcard yet? I’d love to know your thoughts about this duology in the comments!